Virtual Construction of Central Asia’s Plant Life

Central Asia’s valuable botanical collections—which are currently available only in herbaria and mostly located in respective capitals—are soon going to be accessible to the wider public via an internet database.

Eleven visiting scholars from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan are taking part in a weeklong workshop in Greifswald, Germany, to mark the occasion. The goal of the workshop is to provide its participants with the knowledge of how to catalogue herbarium specimens on the internet.

The key resource being utilized is a database developed at the University of Greifswald, which already provides online access to information about the flora of Mongolia. Over the medium term, data about specimens stored in the herbaria are expected to be published for all plant species occurring in the region. Among the specimens currently stored in the herbaria are findings from research expeditions to Central Asia dating back almost 200 years. These include herbarium specimens collected by such German botanists as Schrenk, Lehmann, or Riegel.

The CADI-project supports the development of the digital herbaria in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, while simultaneously supporting botanists from Uzbekistan through a project sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Both projects are being effectuated by the Michael Succow Foundation in cooperation with the University of Greifswald.